Blog Entry

New Report Reveals Botched Consultation Process for Indigenous Xinca at Pan American Silver Mine in Guatemala

On September 6th, the Institute for Policy Studies and Earthworks released a report (attached to this post) with worrisome conclusions regarding the ongoing consultation process around Canadian mining company Pan American Silver's Escobal mine. In May 2019, the Xinca Parliament denounced a increased tension and provocation around the mine following the company's controversial acquisition of Tahoe Resources. This most recent report demonstrates that not only has the tension continued to augment, but the Guatemalan government is attempting to completely sideline the Xinca from the process. A year after the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines to consult with the Xinca Parliament, thousands mobilized in front of the Constitutional Court to denounce the irregularities in the process.  

As an Earhworks blog post notes, "Rather than the open, inclusive consultation promised in the Court ruling, the Xinka have faced threats, intimidation, and an exclusionary, potentially illegal process that seems to have a preordained outcome: the reopening of a mine that the Xinka say will destroy their way of life". 


Key findings: 

  • The consultation process led by the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) currently relies on a decision on the company’s area of influence that was made before the consultation had officially begun, putting the legality of the current process in question.
  • MEM continues exclusionary and discriminatory practices that first led to the Constitutional Court’s suspension of the Escobal project, including failing to respect the rights of the Xinka to determine how they will be represented in the process and holding meetings without their participation.
  • The Supreme Court has failed to respond to repeated complaints the Xinka Parliament has filed since November 2018 about lack of due process, Indigenous participation and discrimination.
  • Complaints also include accusations of influence-peddling against the government, given that the company announced advances in the process before the Xinka Parliament was notified it had begun.
  • Concurrently, the Xinka Parliament has faced a sharp increase in threats against its leadership and members of the resistance, undermining their security and the ‘free’ nature of the process.
  • In August 2019, the Xinka Parliament appealed directly to the Constitutional Court due to the Supreme Court’s lack of response to their complaints.
  • On September 3rd, 2019, the first anniversary of the Constitutional Court decision, over a thousand people marched in Guatemala City to demand that the high court defend Xinka people’s rights.
  • Continuing the consultation without due process or full respect and inclusion of the Xinka and their representative organization jeopardizes its legality and legitimacy.
  • Unless the process is reset to stage one – review of the mine’s area of influence – with robust inclusion of and respect for the Xinka people and the Xinka Parliament, it is at risk of losing all social support.

As a result of the repeated irregularities in the process, SumofUs has launched a petition. Sign on here to pledge your solidarity to the community against the Canadian company.